What are IORT & IOCT?

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Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) and Intraoperative chemotherapy (IOCT) is a treatment for cancer in which the radiation/ Chemotherapy is delivered directly to a small area of the body, all at once. This is different from the usual method of delivering radiation, in which a larger part of the body (such as an entire organ) receives radiation for a longer period of time.

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) delivers concentrated radiation treatment to the tumor bed during surgery. This advanced technology helps to eliminate hidden populations of residual tumor cells: cells which might otherwise remain around the edges of the tumor bed, and later lead to recurrence. IORT reduces the need for EBRT (External Beam Radiotherapy) Treatment by provide a targeted radiation "boost" during the surgery.

Intraoperative chemotherapy (IOCT, such as with a localized BCNU wafer) delivers a concentrated dose of chemotherapy to the tumor bed during surgery. By eliminating side effects and remote toxicity, this technology is able to deliver up to 110 times more chemotherapy to the tumor than is possible by traditional systemic chemotherapy.

For surgery candidates, IORT delivers local concentrated radiation to the tumor bed during surgery, which helps to eliminate hidden populations of residual tumor cells that may lead to tumor recurrence. IORT reduces the need for External Beam Radiotherapy, provide maximum effects, accurate targeting, without affecting healthy tissues.


IORT for Breast Cancer-Click to zoom

Intraoperative Radiotherapy (IORT) with Intrabeam system is internal radiation therapy performed during surgery after removal of the tumour. Before the surgeon closes the incision, the Intrabeam applicator is positioned in the area of the breast where the tumour was located. Intrabeam radiation is applied for 20-30 minutes treating the affected tissue in the tumour bed from the inside the tumour cavity. The surgeon then closes the incision.

Intraoperative radiotherapy using the Intrabeam System differs from traditional external post-surgical radiation treatment systems by treating the tumour bed from within, ensuring radiation delivery accuracy.

Advantages of IORT and IOCT

  • Maximum effect. Delivers a concentrated dose of radiation and chemotherapy to a tumor site immediately after a tumor is removed, which help to destroy the microscopic tumor cells that may be left behind. While the tumor site is typically at high risk for recurrence, traditional EBRT and chemotherapy requires a recovery period after surgery, which may leaves microscopic amount of tumor cells in the tumor site for longer.
  • Accurate targeting/Spares healthy tissues and organs. During IORT/IOCT, precise tumor-killing dosing is applied to suspicious tissues while shielding healthy tissues or structures that might have been be damaged using other methods. This allows a higher combined radiation and chemotherapy dose to be delivered to the tumor bed, while sparing healthy surrounding tissues. Critical organs such as the lungs or heart can also be protected from the effects of systemic radiation/chemotherapy.
  • Shortened treatment times. IORT/IOCT may help some patients finish treatment and get back to their lives quicker by reducing the need for additional EBRT or chemotherapy (typically given over five to six weeks). The IORT/IOCT treatment itself takes only about four to five minutes during surgery.



In the long-term clinical application of this technology on brain tumors, extremely good results have been demonstrated over the past 14 years. This combination therapy has been used in over 8,000 tumor cases, and initially was mainly utilized for treating breast cancer. Beijing Puhua International Hospital is one of the first facilities to apply this technology to an initial cohort of glioma patients, and has treated over 150 cases of brain tumor cases as of this writing.

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